Equitable access to primary health care is a key objective for health policy makers. In Australia, poor access to primary care providers has been well documented for many rural areas, yet the distribution of general practitioners (GPs) in metropolitan regions remains relatively unknown. Traditional methods of determining geographic access to GPs are limited as they rely on simple population to provider ratios within artificial administrative borders and, among other things, fail to take into account patients that utilise close-by facilities outside of these borders. This study utilised specialised geographic information systems to examine the equity of access to GPs in an Australia capital city (Adelaide). Results showed that by Australian standards, residents of metropolitan Adelaide have low GP ratios. However, an inequitable spatial distribution of GPs within metropolitan Adelaide was found, with ∼16% of residents considered to be living in areas of GP workforce shortage. Residents in the outer suburbs and those with lower social economic status appeared to be the most disadvantaged. It is recommended that future studies employ specialised GIS techniques as they provide a more accurate measurement of variations in spatial accessibility to primary care within metropolitan cities.
- floating catchment
- geographic information systems
- GP shortage